Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kasparov arrested

Bobby Fischer once claimed to have been tortured in a Pasadena jail house.

Today's Observer reports Kasparov was arrested in Moscow yesterday.

Perhaps life does imitate chess after all.


ejh said...

While Kasparov is a sincere demoract and I both admire his courage and loathe the Putin government there are some points which the press coverage, either in the BBC or in Chessbase (owned by Kasparov's friend and business associate) doesn't tend to make. The BBC did have someone saying that Kasparov's group doesn't have much support, and there are some reasons for that:

1. Kasparov is seen as very pro-West which doesn't go down well in Russia, where there is a strong feeling that they are becoming surrounded by NATO.

2. There was a huge economic catastrophe in Russia in the Nineties which involved a collpase of living standards (indeed, male life expectancy declined by about ten years). This was widely ignored by the Western media because they were too busy talking to young successful people in Moscow and St Petersburg and talking about how another McDonald's was opening. Kasparov is very identified with the sort of extreme free-market ideas which many Russians think helped bring about that economic disaster.

3. Kasparov is also identified in the public mind with a very small number of the individuals who, during those years, made themselves very rich very quickly through corruption. Neither they nor their friends are popular with the Russian public and part of th reason for Putin's popularity is that he has distanced himself from them and put at least one of them in jail.

Now Russians may be right or wrong about any of these issues but there is at least rather more to the picture than the usual "brave pro-Western democracts versus the nasty Communist dictators" picture which we tend to get in the West. Personally I view Putin as a criminal but I also view some of Kasparov's friends in the same light and I think additionally that when tens of millions of people are impoverished they are unlikely to listen to appeals for democracy from people who they may hold responsible for their condition.

Perry Anderson on Putin

Tom Chivers said...

"Perhaps life does imitate chess after all."

Uh? How?

Jonathan B said...


It was a vague reference to Kasparov's life imitating chess history (i.e. Bobby Fischer's life) and, of course, a nod to the title of K's latest book.

Anonymous said...

Fischer was tortured. I tortured him.

Jonathan B said...

We had a question about Kasparov's arrest in the pub quiz tonight (the chess club team generously allowed our next door neighbours a point even though they thought a Gerry Kasporov was the man concerned!).